September 21 –
Here I am, sitting in my family’s house contemplating what to write. This last week was wild. Never in a million years would any of you guess as to what it is like to be in Peru. What a fascinating country with fascinating people. The Peruvians in my town love having their gringos (white people) here. They are very receptive of us 9 or so volunteers. They especially think it is funny that my Spanish is horrible. The other volunteers can at least speak the language a little well. Everyone wants to meet the gringo who can’t speak the language…me. But, my Spanish is coming along. I have learned a lot in the last few days. In three months time I will have the language down pretty well. I’m sure you would all like to know what typical day is like for me. I usually get up around 7 a.m. and eat breakfast. For breakfast, my mother usually serves me pan con palta (crusted bread roll with avocado) with juice. It is absolutely delicious. The juice is of various fruits freshly made in the blender in the morning. After breakfast I take a shower. But wait, it is no ordinary shower…there is no hot water. Being that it is the beginning of spring right now in Peru…it is really cold outside (which is kind of where my shower is). But I have gotten used to how cold it is. It just takes me a couple minutes to get up the nerve to jump under the ice-cold stream of water. After a shower I walk a few miles to the bus stop and hop onto a cambi (small VW style bus that holds about 15 people normally but about 50 people during rush hour). It costs 50 centimos (15 american cents) to ride. The exchange rate is 3 Peruvian soles to 1 american dollar. After about a 7 minute bus ride I get to my stop and walk 5 blocks to the Peace Corps Mansion. After 8 hours of class I come back home and usually go out and play basketball or futbol with other Peace Corps members and some local Peruvians. Once it gets dark and we all get tired we go home for dinner. Dinner is usually served late in Peru around 8 or 9 at night. For dinner I usually have either fried eggs with chicken, rice and potatoes with fruit. Chicken, rice potatoes and fruit are the four staple foods in a Peruvian diet. You would not believe how much fruit we consume in a day. After two hours of conversation in Spanish with my host family (a lot of dictionary use) I hit the hay. Peru is a fantastic place with fantastic people and everyday I wake up I feel so lucky to be a part of the Peace Corps in Peru. I couldn’t imagine a better experience. All the great things that have come from me being here far out weigh the hardships. I love you all.
September 22 –
Today is Saturday, which meant the day off from work and study (kind of…I’m always studying). Today was pretty neat. I went to downtown Lima with my Grandpa, 2 Uncles, Aunt, cousin, and second cousin in their little car. My uncle (who just became an American citizen) needed to go into Lima today to change his plane ticket departure date. Lima is a pretty wild place. I lot of different things going on everywhere you look. I have some pictures that I hope to post. The trip to and from Lima was wild. We took a bunch of fast, packed roads through various towns (all of which had special names). One town we went through was where it is supposedly easy to meet a girl (if you know what I mean). My family has an awesome sense of humor, which is great for me. They are all about as goofy as I am, which makes for a good time. The roads are crazier than crazy. No speed limit, no rules. It’s like a major free for all…cars going the wrong way, weaving in and out of traffic. Luckily for me, my grandpa is a professional driver. He drives a bus for a university in a town near mine. Peruvians are funny when it comes to driving. They love honking their horn. All day, every day, people honk their horn. They honk their horn at people walking along the street, at other cars, at dogs, at buses and trucks. Often they honk their horn at nothing at all. Today, as we were driving, there was a couple making out on the side of the road and my grandpa honked at them. It was absolutely hilarious. But I guess I was the only one in the car that realized what he did, so I explained it to my family and they all laughed. After we were all done taking care of business in downtown Lima we walked around a major park in the middle of town called Plaza de San Martin which is beautiful. My cousin told me the history of San Martin and how he is a South American hero. I guess after he helped South Americans the French in France killed him. The park is very pretty and I have some pictures of it. After the park we went to a little fish restaurant just outside of town. It was the first restaurant that I have been to in Peru. I had leche tigre (tiger’s milk) for an appetizer and some chicharron for dinner. Leche tigre is a drink made of onions, fish, spices, and baked salty corn things. It actually wasn’t too bad to drink (or eat). The Chicharron (correct my spelling) was fried and tasted just like fried cod. After lunch my cousin and I needed to use the restroom but the restaurant didn’t have one so my family told us to just go outside and pee on a tree (there was tons of traffic). I refused, but my cousin went ahead and did it. I have a picture of it. I told them that they were crazy but my uncle said that it was normal. He said, “pee is what helps the tree grow.” It was hilarious. After that we came home and took a siesta. Today was an awesome day that I will never forget. Tomorrow some peace corps members and our families are getting together to hike up to some ruins just above our town that are pre-Incan. They are some of the most mysterious ruins in the world because they could have only been made if the people who made them had a bird’s eye view of the land. I look forward to seeing them. I love you all.